how to stop puppy biting

How to Stop Puppy Biting

Puppy biting is one of the most common and frustrating puppy issues. Although it is totally normal and natural, many dog owners are a bit overstrained on how to stop puppy biting behavior.

Why do Puppies Bite?

Mouthing, chewing and biting are natural ways for puppies to explore, taste and experience their environment. Everything they see gets into their mouth. There are two main reasons for puppies to bite onto things, teething and play biting. 

The reason why puppies have sharp little teeth is part of the socialization process. When they spent 8 weeks with their mother and littermates, they are being teached what is so called bite inhibition.

In this process, they will learn to adjust their biting behavior and their jaw force to appropriate things. Puppies have tough skin so they are used to playing a bit rough with their brothers and sisters. When they play with each other and biting becomes too rough one will start to yelp. This is a form of feedback they get and is essential for their development.

In order to even receive feedback, they need those sharp teeth because their jaws are not strong enough. Through bite inhibition training they learn what to bite and how strong to bite.

Teaching Bite Inhibition

When you bring your new puppy home, you now have the responsibility to continue with the feedback the littermates and the mother gave.

Many trainers believe that you should just imitate the sound of a little puppy screaming from pain but I personally believe that you as a human can never imitate dog behavior. Your puppy will probably just be confused, assuming you would be able to create a sound even close to a puppy whining.

You will have to really be patient and consistent with bite inhibition but it will pay of and your dog will be well behaved.

No Biting Tolerated

Petting your puppy almost always includes mouthing and biting. The goal here is to teach your puppy that nipping on human clothes and skin is not tolerated. It is important to no pull your hands or clothes away out of reflex. Fast movements reinforce your dog to chase your hand and it will probably make it worse.

Instead, you should leave your hand right there and say a clear “ouch” (in a yelping voice) until your puppy stops biting. Praise him for letting go and continue playing or petting. If you have a rough play biter that won’t stop nipping on you, simply stand up and ignore your puppy for a few seconds or leave the room.

Time outs are a very effective way to stop puppy biting as young dogs love to interact and play with their owner. If you suddenly stand up and leave the room after he bit you, he will definitely remember that. Only when he is calm and gentle you will get back into the room.

Redirecting

The goal to redirecting is teaching your puppy that mouthing on toys is okay but not on skin. You should also teach him that clothes are also a no go. When he starts play biting, engage with him in a game of tug to redirect his attention on the toy and not your hand.

If playing gets to rough you will simply stop just like I said before. Another way to distract him from chewing is by teaching him the command “let go”. This will bring structure into your game, teach him impulse control and stops undesired behavior.

If your puppy also goes for your ankles, redirecting him works just great. When he starts biting your feet, stop right there in your movement and tell him a firm “no” or use the same yelping voice you used before. Once he has stopped grab his favorite toy and play with him as a reward.

Gentle Treats

We want to really teach him how he should interact with our hands while playing or petting.

For this method you will grab a bunch of small treats and place them between your index finger and thumb. When you start feeding them to your puppy pay attention to how he grabs them. If he bites to hard on your hand you will stop feeding him.

Leave them a bit longer between your fingers to see if he just tries to lick them out of your hand or if he uses his teeth.

Relieving Energy

If all of these tips don’t seem to work it is probably because your puppy is not exercised enough. I am not only talking about going for walks but also a lack of mental stimulation can encourage biting behavior.

You should also consider attending puppy classes which are very important for his socialization. Puppies are the best teachers when it comes to playing biting and yours will love the play and interaction.

I have visited puppy classes since my dog was 9 weeks old and we still go to play classes two times a week. There is nothing better for a dog than playing with other dogs in a safe and controlled environment (not like the dog park).

Puppy Teething

Like babies, puppies lose their teeth so their gums can be irritated and itchy. Providing your puppy with safe chew toys is the key to relieving that urge. I personally use the Kong for Puppies and the Nylabone Chew Toy.

High energy dog breeds are more likely to chew, so getting that energy out in the morning and throughout the day is mandatory. Puppy-proof your home, so he won’t chew on cords or an expensive rug or swallow harming things.

Things to Avoid

There are certain situations that are prone to play biting and not necessary.

  • Avoid fiddling your hands in your dogs face or slapping his head between your hands for fun. This will only encourage him to bite.
  • As I said before, avoid quick movements or pulling your hands away when he mouths on them.
  • Do not play too rough with your puppy. This could potentially damage his little teeth and will encourage rough playing.
  • We do not want to discourage the puppy to play at all. It is your responsibility to show him how to play in a gentle manner.
  • Do not lose your patience and yell at him. Raising your voice does nothing good.
  • Never hit or kick your puppy for biting you. He is not showing dominance or aggression towards you and physical punishment will make him afraid of you which will cause real biting.

When Play Biting Becomes Serious

Play and puppy biting is usually always normal and doesn’t show any signs of aggression. You have probably watched your puppy mouthing on you in a playful manner before. His body is clumsy and relaxed and his mouth soft.

Early signs of adulthood aggression can include that your puppy significantly bites stronger than usual. His body tense and she shows you his teeth and growls at you. If this happens while a normal play and he doesn’t experience any pain or something else that might have startled him than you have a problem.

If you then try your yelping sound, it will only encourage his aggressive behavior. Instead, do not show any emotions and do not back up from your puppy because that is showing him that you are afraid and fearful which is prey behavior.

If you can you should firmly hold him still without hurting him until he has calmed down. After that, you should consult a professional to specify the problem and to avoid any further aggression.

My Rottweiler chewed and mouthed for like 2 weeks and then simply stopped using these techniques. Let me know in the comments what helped you to get rid of puppy biting.

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